BLAST FROM THE PAST: 2017 BAHRAIN GP QUALIFYING REPORT
Valtteri Bottas has claimed his first pole position in Formula 1 in Bahrain. The Finn has broken Lewis Hamilton’s six-race streak of P1 starts by setting an incredible lap time in Sakhir. Hamilton joins him on the front row with the Ferraris behind them.
After the chaotic weather in China, normality was restored in Bahrain with clean running through all three practice sessions. As the sun set in the desert the Sakhir circuit began to cool to replicate the conditions that we saw in FP2.
In Q1, Valtteri Bottas set the early pace while Lewis Hamilton made a mistake on his opening. Max Verstappen, fresh from topping FP3, then beat Bottas’ lap before Hamilton recovered from his error to head the session with a 1:30.8. The Mercedes cars and Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari were clearly the class of the field, qualifying comfortably on the slower Softs tyres. Raikkonen was struggling, though, and required a second lap to get through to Q2.
The battle to make the top 15 was frantic but Carlos Sainz stopped out on track in sector three to cut the action short. Kevin Magnussen, Marcus Ericsson, Stoffel Vandoorne and Sergio Perez joined the aforementioned Sainz out of qualifying.
Night had fully descended by the beginning of Q2 and Bottas again set the initial pace but Hamilton beat his time once more. A 1:29.5 topped the session but Bottas and Vettel were within a tenth of the three-time world champion. The trio were looking increasingly untouchable as Raikkonen was three tenths back.
Fernando Alonso was no doubt fuming as his McLaren failed him yet again. The Spaniard wasn’t even able to set a lap and was walking to parc ferme while his rivals were speeding around the track. Nico Hulkenberg set a sensational lap to go into P5 at the end of the session while his Renault teammate, Jolyon Palmer, made it through to Q3 for the first time in his career. Daniil Kvyat, Lance Stroll, Esteban Ocon and the returning Pascal Wehrlein all joined Alonso out of qualifying.
Q3 began and Bottas broke the lap record of the circuit before Hamilton, once again, beat that time. Vettel was almost half a second down on the Silver Arrows, making it seem like a two-horse race. On their second and final runs Bottas set a 1:28.769 which was insurmountable! Hamilton made a mistake on his lap and the Ferraris were too far back to challenge.
All that means that Valtteri Bottas is a Formula 1 polesitter and has set himself up for his first win in the best possible way. He walks in the steps of Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen, Kimi Raikkonen and Heiki Kovalianen, the latter of which claimed the last Finnish pole position at the 2008 British Grand Prix, almost a decade ago!
Vettel is in P3, Ricciardo (P4) did well to outqualify Raikkonen (P5), while Mad Max starts P6 in the desert. Felipe Massa qualified in P8, the singing Romain Grosjean was in a respectable ninth, while the Renaults, in Q3 for the first time since their return were P7 and P10.
P1: Bottas – 1:28.769
P2: Hamilton +0.023
P3: Vettel +0.478
P4: Ricciardo +0.776
P5: Raikkonen +0.798
P6: Verstappen +0.918
P7: Hulkenberg +1.073
P8: Massa +1.305
P9: Grosjean +1.994
P10: Palmer +2.305
P11: Kvyat 1:30.923 (Q2)
P12: Stroll +0.245
P13: Wehrlein +0.491
P14: Ocon +0.761
P15: Alonso (no time)
P16: Sainz 1:32.118 (Q1)
P17: Vandoorne +0.195
P18: Perez +0.200
P19: Ericsson +0.425
P20: Magnussen +0.782